Getting out and about is good for everyone’s physical and mental health. However, the fear of getting lost or confused when outside the home prevents many people with dementia from leaving home. Consequently, they tend to limit their time away from the house. But with good planning and community help, people with dementia can maintain the benefits of walking and taking a holiday.
“I am a person.
Sometimes people like to go for walks, even people with dementia. Sometimes people get lost, even people without dementia”
Taken from Kate Swaffer’s poem, ‘Wandering along the beach’. (2014)
Dementia Australia has two booklets, Walking safely with dementia, and Travelling and holidays with dementia. These booklets are designed for people with dementia and their families. However, the information is good for communities who want to make their places and spaces dementia friendly.
The walking guide features strategies people can take to make sure they stay safe and know what to do if they become lost. They can be as simple as carrying identification and establishing familiar routines and places. The section on safety involves avoiding crowds and disorienting entry and exits. Double entry and exits in shopping centres can cause confusion for people without dementia. Directional signage on the way out of the toilet is useful for everyone.
Dementia Australia has a Dementia-Friendly Communities program where people can learn more about dementia and how they can help. There’s a list of things you can do if you meet someone who may be lost.
“My mother has dementia, but her life continues to be enriched with fulfilment. We went on a cruise last year that provided us with uninterrupted time, gave me some time to relax and just be there for my mum while our needs were taken care of. It was difficult at times, but so rewarding to have shared this time together”
Travelling and holidays
Similarly to the walking guide, careful planning is key to success. The holiday booklet covers travel by sea, air, car and public transport. There’s a checklist of things to consider and how you can plan to optimise your level of capability. When it comes to accommodation, it’s useful to notify hotel staff. Some hotel accessible rooms might be more comfortable.
There is nothing in this booklet for transportation agencies for people with dementia. However, it gives travel and accommodation providers insights into the lives of people with dementia and their families.
See also the Age and Dementia Friendly Streetscapes Toolkit.